How can I help my baby sleep when she has a cold?

Q: How can I help my baby sleep better when she has a cold?

A: Ask any parent and she'll tell you that one of the worst parts of having a baby with a cold is the sleep disruption -- hers and yours. But you shouldn't give any over-the-counter cold or cough meds to babies under 2 (certain ingredients can cause serious side effects, including increased nausea and vomiting, hallucinations, and rarely, even seizures). What you can do:

- Spritz a little saline spray up baby's nose at bedtime to loosen mucus, and then suck it out with a nasal aspirator. This should allow her to breathe easier long enough to doze off (you may need to repeat the process in the middle of the night). - Place a humidifier in your baby's room to moisten the air and loosen congestion. - Elevate your baby's head, which can minimize the discomfort of a stuffy nose. It's fine to let babies less than 3 or 4 months sleep their car seat. After that age, babies should go down in the crib -- they tend to sleep better when they can stretch out and roll around -- but you can place a folded towel or crib wedge under the mattress to raise your baby's head (never place anything directly in the crib, however; this can be a suffocation hazard).

Copyright 2005 Meredith Corporation. Updated 2009.